My sixth half marathon took place in Cape Girardeau, MO, a small city about an hour from where I live in Illinois. There's a certain comfort factor in running a race close to home, and I might have underestimated its challenge. Here are my notes from today:
1) More hills, more hills!: The race description said "moderate hills." Moderate hills, my ass. And it was my ass--butt, rear, glutes--that kept me going during this half. It was hilly at the the start, flat during some lovely scenery on the Cape La Croix bike trail and in the Cape Woods, and hilly at the end. There were four hills in the last four miles.
2) Race headquarters was the Health Point Fitness facility on Independence Street. If I lived in Cape, I'd definitely be a member of this gym: it was light, bright and welcoming inside. Because this was not a big race, I had plenty of pre-race bathroom access.
3) This may be a small race in a small city, but the Cape Road Runners have done it a lot: this was the 31st running of this half marathon. Everyone received a finisher's medal and there was a very nice wicking T-shirt to those who pre-registered (baby blue so I'll actually wear it). There were lots of race volunteers and I had no trouble getting water and/or gatorade while on the course. They did not give out GU however.
4) Hills are a physical and a spiritual test. I got towards the end of the race, mile 9 or so, and I'm thinking, "I'm just going to breeze on in to the finish line." So so wrong. If I had looked at the course map elevation before the race, I would have known that the last four miles had four significant hills in them. I observed a lot of different hill strategies: the walk to the top then run, the charge up and hope for the best, the steady swim. I am a proponent of the steady swim, even if on one of the last hills I had to really pick up my feet to keep going. I don't ever stop to walk during a half because I fear I won't start running again!
5) During the section in the lovely Cape Woods, we went over several picturesque wooden bridges. So nice to look at, so treacherous when wet. I tried to step lightly and prayed not to slip. On the bike trail, we encountered folks on wheels who looked startled to see a half marathon in progress. No collisions ensued.
6) Serendipity is a great and funny thing. One of the last songs my SANSA played was Billy Idol's cover of "Mony Mony," originally made famous by Tommy James and the Shondells. There's a great part of that song where Billy yell-sings "C'mon"--and he yell-sings it a lot. It was perversely encouraging. Also funny: there was some incidental construction right prior to the finishing area back at Health Point where there was a big temporary sign that read "Be prepared to stop." I said out loud "I love that sign" and a male runner in front of me pretended to hug it.
7) Chip time vs. gun time. Fleet Feet STL did the timing and they are quick and precise. My chip time for this race was 2:10:28 and my gun time was 2:10:44. The difference is that my chip time is my individual time for the race as determined by my own timing chip; and the gun time is the time from the gun going off to my crossing the finish line. The time in between meant there were folks in front of me before I crossed the starting line.
8) Some folks will cool down by running back over the course. Try not to hate these people. They will look relieved and relaxed, with a "my work here is done" expression on their faces. You will still be finishing. Like I said, try not to hate these people.
9) I saw a lot of women at this race. I would venture to guess that there were more women than men. Women seem to run in groups, men solo (though I did see couples and mixed groups). I am a solo runner, so if anyone wants to run with me, I'm game!